The BBC’s Climate Change Advisory Group

October 2013: Following on from an earlier post on the BBC’s reporting of climate science – where it emerged the BBC had some time ago established a ‘Climate Change Advisory Group’ – I sent a few emails to the BBC Trust and information service asking for brief details about this particular Group. With no response forthcoming, I then sent an FOI request to the BBC Trust asking for some basic information about the Group:

1. The BBC Trust’s ‘Review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science‘ 2011 report makes reference to a BBC Climate Change Advisory Group [p36]. The BBC Trust’s ‘Meetings & Committees‘ page doesn’t unfortunately provide any information on this Group – and I can find no further details elsewhere – certainly not on the website.

I’d be grateful if you could let me know:

  • When was the BBC Climate Change Advisory Group established?
  • How often does the BBC Climate Change Advisory Group meet?
  • Are the minutes for the BBC Climate Change Advisory Group meetings posted online anywhere? If not – could they be?
  • Could I be provided with minutes and associated papers from all previous BBC Climate Change Advisory Group meetings?
  • Who sits on the BBC Climate Change Advisory Group?
  • Will the group be examining the recent Sunday Politics show (14 July 2013) interview with Secretary of State for Climate Change, Ed Davey, and the subsequent correspondence and critique of the interview hat has been generated?   The links related to this follow below:

The climate change policy discussion I wish Andrew Neil would have on BBC
Andrew Neil – these are your climate errors on BBC Sunday Politics

2. The ‘BBC Trust Review  of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science: follow up‘ from November 2012 goes on to say that a BBC Science Forum has been created. Similar to the above, I’d be grateful if you let me know:

  • How often does this group meet?
  • Are the minute’s for the forum’s meeting posted online anywhere? If not, could they be?
  • Who sits on the forum?
  • Will the forum be looking at the recent Sunday Politics show and the subsequent correspondence that has been generated?

3. Finally, will the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee be studying the Politics Show interview of Ed Davey to see if had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality and accuracy. I’d grateful if you could also let me know what determines whether or not the Committee reviews a particular BBC show.

This information request is simply asking for some details on an advisory group in the BBC and though I didn’t anticipate being sent the minutes of the meetings, I thought the BBC would be fairly open to sending details of membership and meeting dates. After the obligatory 20 or so days wait I received the following response from the BBC which provided information on …well…next to nothing. The response states:

“In the present case, groups such as the Climate Change Steering Group and the BBC Science Forum form part of the editorial process by which we inform, review and improve our journalistic content and output. The information you have asked for is therefore related to the creation of our output, and so is excluded from the Act. Similarly, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) makes rulings on editorial complaints and this activity is therefore also directed to the maintenance and enhancement of the standards and quality of the BBC’s journalism.”

As mentioned above, a FOI request had only been resorted to after several emails to the BBC Trust were unanswered. Regardless of whether this request falls within the FOI remit or not, it just appears odd that the corporation is so reluctant to reveal any information at all about a group that is helping guide the BBC on a subject which holds so much public interest.

Radio 4’s Feedback programme reported earlier this week that the BBC is now looking at complaints made into its reporting of climate science on the Radio 4 programme ‘World at One‘  following the publication of the IPPC’s 5th Assessment Report. I wonder what the BBC’s Climate Change Advisory Group’s position is on this..?

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